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Strikes, Employee Workplace Representation, Unionism, and Trust: Evidence from Cross-Country Data


  • Addison, John T.

    () (University of South Carolina)

  • Teixeira, Paulino

    () (University of Coimbra)


This paper investigates the determinants of industrial conflict in companies, using a multi-country workplace inquiry for 2009 and 2013 and various measures of strike activity. The principal goal is to address the effect of formal workplace representation on strikes, distinguishing in the first instance between works councils on the one hand and broadly equivalent trade union based entities on the other. The role of unionism is also central to this inquiry, not only with respect to the degree to which workplace representation is union dominated but also and more familiarly perhaps through workplace union density and the level at which collective bargaining is conducted. Attention is also paid to the quality of industrial relations, as reflected in dissonance, namely divergent assessments of managers and employee workplace representatives as to the state of industrial relations. Although country effects do matter, it is reported that works councils are associated with reduced strike activity. However, any such effect is sensitive in particular to the union status of work councilors and time. There is also some indication that collective bargaining at levels higher than the company can exacerbate strike activity but this effect does not persist, possibly because of decentralization and the development of hybrid bargaining structures. For its part, good industrial relations appears key to strike reduction, independent of workplace representation.

Suggested Citation

  • Addison, John T. & Teixeira, Paulino, 2017. "Strikes, Employee Workplace Representation, Unionism, and Trust: Evidence from Cross-Country Data," IZA Discussion Papers 10575, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp10575

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. John T. Addison, 2016. "Collective bargaining systems and macroeconomic and microeconomic flexibility: the quest for appropriate institutional forms in advanced economies," IZA Journal of Labor Policy, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 5(1), pages 1-53, December.
    2. Forth, John & Bryson, Alex & George, Anitha, 2016. "Explaining Cross-National Variation in Workplace Employee Representation," IZA Discussion Papers 9963, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Alan B. Krueger & Alexandre Mas, 2004. "Strikes, Scabs, and Tread Separations: Labor Strife and the Production of Defective Bridgestone/Firestone Tires," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(2), pages 253-289, April.
    4. Ashenfelter, Orley & Johnson, George E, 1969. "Bargaining Theory, Trade Unions, and Industrial Strike Activity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 59(1), pages 35-49, March.
    5. John T. Addison & Paulino Teixeira & Katalin Evers & Lutz Bellmann, 2015. "Collective Bargaining and Innovation," Working Paper series 15-07, Rimini Centre for Economic Analysis.
    6. Giedo Jansen, 2014. "Effects of Union Organization on Strike Incidence in EU Companies," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 67(1), pages 60-85, January.
    7. Olaf H¸bler & Uwe Jirjahn, 2003. "Works Councils and Collective Bargaining in Germany: The Impact on Productivity and Wages," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 50(4), pages 471-491, September.
    8. David Fairris & Philippe Askenazy, 2010. "Works Councils and Firm Productivity in France," Journal of Labor Research, Springer, vol. 31(3), pages 209-229, September.
    9. Siebert, W Stanley & Addison, John T, 1981. "Are Strikes Accidential?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 91(362), pages 389-404, June.
    10. Boeri, Tito, 2014. "Two-Tier Bargaining," IZA Discussion Papers 8358, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    11. Bruce E. Kaufman, 1982. "The Determinants of Strikes in the United States, 1900–1977," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 35(4), pages 473-490, July.
    12. Alex Bryson & Carola Frege, 2010. "The Importance of Comparative Workplace Employment Relations Studies," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 48(2), pages 231-234, June.
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    More about this item


    works councils; employee representation; union density; collective bargaining; industrial relations quality; strikes; trust;

    JEL classification:

    • J51 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Trade Unions: Objectives, Structure, and Effects
    • J52 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Dispute Resolution: Strikes, Arbitration, and Mediation
    • J53 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Labor-Management Relations; Industrial Jurisprudence
    • J83 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Standards - - - Workers' Rights

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